The Past, Present and Future essay

Elrey Borge Jeppesen is hailed as a pioneer of air navigation. He was the inventor of aeronautical charts commonly used nowadays and undoubtedly deserves a lot of credit for his contribution. The charts and manuals he created secured efficient travel and the safety of both the pilots and the passengers. Jeppesen was among the first to resort to technology, namely radio tools, in order to facilitate navigation. Jeppesen’s inventions have saved him a significant place in the history of aviation (DIA 2007).

Jeppesen’s biography is truly that of an outstanding person. He went from being a barnstormer and later a pilot delivering mail to owning a successful aeronautical chart business. Jeppersen was born on 28 January 1907 and at the age of 16 he realized that flying was his true calling. He decided to abandon his studies and dedicate himself fully to his vocation. He bought his first plane “Jenny” for 500$ and flew it as part of the Portland flying circus. Jeppesen’s second plane was Alexander Eaglerock.

Buying those planes marked the start of his career in aviation, which in the long haul brought crucial innovations into the industry. At a certain point in his career he joined Boeing Air Transport Company and worked as co-pilot. During the Great Depression Jeppesen performed mail delivery and it was then that he understood the necessity of improvement of the navigation system (Holmes, 1999). At the age of 23 that the young pilot started taking photographs, creating his own navigation charts and conducting aerial surveys.

A compass, road maps and landmarks couldn’t provide enough orientation in the conditions of limited visibility or during a night flight, therefore Jeppesen’s major motivation for seeking improvement at that time was simplifying his work and ensuring his own safety on this dangerous route. The following quote proves this point: “I invented something to prevent me from getting killed” (Memorial-IP 1996). The navigation charts that he created featured various landmarks, obstructions and elevations visible from the air.

Jeppesen also designated the information on airport runways, marked slopes, the length of fields, the patterns of drainage. He went as far as recording the telephone numbers of locals, from whom he could get weather updates. Jeppesen’s charts turned out to be so precise and useful that they became very popular with Jeppesen’s fellow pilots. His colleagues were willing to pay 10$ to get hold of a copy of Jeppesen’s navigation manual. His fellow pilots made frequent contributions of updated route and airport information so Jeppesen’s manual gradually became more and more detailed and accurate (Holmes 1999).

Jeppesen’s flying career took a crucial turn when he started working for United Airlines. He met the girl, who would later become his wife, and a few years later they started a new business, the foundation of which was Jeppesen Airway Manual. Their office was in their basement and college students were their employees, doing artwork and drafts. Jeppesen diligently measured all the elevations with the help of an altimeter in order to provide accurate data in his charts. Jeppesen’s hard work resulted in almost all of the United States being charted a few years later.

As the navigation manual business was expanding Jeppesen kept working for United Airlines. United Airlines was the first company to make Jeppesen’s navigation charts its standard navigation tool. Quite predictably, the so-called “Jepp charts”, which were both accurate and detailed, were issued to all military pilots when the U. S. got involved in World War II. Moreover, they were also widely used by the U. S. navy. After the war numerous commercial airlines as well as the State Air Force acquired Jeppesen’s standard navigation manual and made much use of it.

1954 was the year of Jeppesen’s retirement from United. In the following years he concentrated primarily on his chart business and in 1961 it was sold to the company Times Mirror Corporation, where he was appointed president and then chairman. Jeppesen died on 26 November, 1996 having made a profound contribution to the aviation industry. In order to commemorate this aviation pioneer and his legacy, the administration of Denver International Airport has named its main terminal after Jeppesen.

There is also a permanent exhibit dedicated to the work of this memorable man, which is intended to preserve the knowledge about his contributions for future generations. (DIA 2007) The year 2000 witnessed the acquisition of Jeppesen Sanderson Incorporated by Boeing. The current name of the business is Jeppesen Sanderson Incorporated and it is run by H. A. Bergmann, a close friend of its founder. The Company specializes in training supplies for pilots, navigation charts for flights at high altitude and many more revolutionary aviation tools.

The essence of the Company’s activity is encapsulated in the quote by Phil Condit, one of its executives: “Because we dared to dream, dared to work hard, we have turned dreams into realities, to leave some huge footprints on every aerospace frontier…” (Jeppesen Official Website 2007). Major values of the Company are efficiency, economy and safety. In order to achieve the realization of the three staples Jeppesen Company introduces solutions, which unite technology and people and thus ensure the best result.

Aviation, rail and marine operators worldwide highly appreciate the top quality products and services provided by the Company. While the Company has offices all over the world, its headquarters are located in the state of Colorado. The motto of Jeppesen Company goes as follows: “Making Every Mission Possible” (Jeppesen Official Website 2007). There’s no denying the fact that the actions and aspirations of the Company fully correspond to its philosophy. Advanced information management and navigation tools provided by the Company ensure the ultimate safety of both the pilots and the passengers.

Jeppesen offers the essential tools for business, commercial and general aviation. The Company sets aviation industry standards for such services as flight and trip planning, aviation training. The appeal of Jeppesen Company to the commercial airlines lies in increasing efficiency while lowering costs. Numerous advances in data delivery and navigation have made possible the transformation from paper products to digital solutions. Aviation Training is one of the areas of the Company’s expertise.

Award-winning advanced solutions offered by Jeppesen have proved to be extremely efficient. Any pilot is sure to find them useful. Jeppesen Company also offers numerous navigation and charting services, such as Airway Manual (famous paper charts), JeppView (electronic navigation aids), Jeppesen NavSuite (electronic flight planning and charts) and NavData (electronic FMS and GPS formatted data). Jeppesen Internet Flight Planner has been recently added to the products offered by Jeppesen Company (Jeppesen Official Website 2007).

The expertise of the Company in Military and government aviation in particular allows it to tailor its services and design products in order to make them fully corresponding to the requirements of the customer. Another essential advantage of the service provided by Jeppesen Company to its clients is the infallible support, which ensures the ultimate performance of the systems and top efficiency. Innovation and leadership in the aviation industry have been the major characteristics of Jeppesen Company for a long time.

While describing the activity of the Company mention must be made of its contribution to the Marine industry. Gone are the days when mariners used the horizon and stars for orientation. Nowadays, the tools provided by Jeppesen Company make safe and accurate navigation possible. The goal of the Company is this direction is to provide secure connection between the sky and the sea by offering innovative solutions for information management, applicable in maritime navigation. Leadership and relentless progress brings advanced solutions and services to various marine markets all over the world.

Another direction of the Company’s activity is Logistics and Rail. The usage of next-generation software created by Jeppesen has increased the efficiency and capacity growth of both freight and passenger railways. Allocation of their equipment has been optimized, as well as crew rostering. Logistics and postal industry has also benefited from the innovations carried out by Jeppesen Company. The services of Jeppesen in this area are especially valuable taking into the consideration increasing global trade, fierce competition among the providers and the urgent need for improvement.

In conclusion, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Jeppersen’s innovations defined the future of aviation and not only. During the 70 years plus of its activity Jeppesen Company has made a profound contribution to the development of the aviation industry by introducing revolutionary products and features. By promoting the progress Jeppesen has secured its place as the leader of the industry. The major accomplishment of the Company lies in the fact that it assures safe and efficient travel for millions of people all over the world.

It is due to the Company’s efforts that travellers arrive at their destinations in an efficient and safe way. It is a well-known fact that the origin of the Company is in aviation. However, stable and dynamic growth has led Jeppesen to the expansion targeted at the rail and marine industries. The Company currently provides efficient and indispensable information solutions for such industries and thus establishing itself on the new markets and gaining the reputation of a reliable provider. Speaking about the future of the Company, further innovation should be expected.

The Company constantly introduces new products and services. In the future the revolutionary digital solutions offered by Jeppesen will address all the needs of the airlines, railways, marine and logistics industries, including operations and information management. It is reasonable to expect that by digitizing, integrating and streamlining the information, significant raise in productivity and safety will be achieved in the abovementioned industries, which ultimately will result in greater profitability.


DC-3 Aviation Museum (1996). Memorial I-P